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Ben Knighton

Ben Knighton, Head of Group Brand (Acting) at National Australia Bank

Australia’s big banks are also big spenders when it comes to advertising. As the leader of brand communications at NAB, Ben Knighton knows that his position comes with the power to help build a culture that is more accepting, more diverse, and more productive. In the workplace, and in society.

He shared with us some of his experiences, insight and advice.

Has advertising inequality affected you, directly or indirectly? 

At NAB, equality in advertising is a key priority. I believe that as a major advertiser we have a responsibility to champion diversity. It’s a core belief at NAB that greater inclusivity and diversity in the workplace is better for everyone. Personally, I think if we, through our advertising, can encourage people to feel more included then that is a powerful thing. We never want to appear tokenistic but we do wish to be representative of our customers and of the true Australia. We receive backlash from people for featuring diverse casting in our communications but are proud to stand by our choices because it is representative of our workforce and our customer base.

What would equality mean for the advertising industry, and society more broadly? 

Advertising plays a big role in building culture and I hope that the work I do can help build a culture that is more accepting, more diverse and more productive.

What’s one thing industry folk could do in their day-to-day work lives that would help drive gender equality? 

Constantly remind yourself that diverse opinions make the work better.

What are the three most important qualities in a leader? 

Integrity – having a strong character and doing what they say they will for the right reasons.
Trust – someone who sets the vision and then puts their trust in others to get there.
Support – for me it’s important to know my leader has my back. This gives me confidence to try things, to be brave, and to perform at my best.

Who are your mentors? 

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Marketing Academy Scholarship and through that program have gained access to a number of incredible mentors. Having industry mentors has been amazing for me and something I would highly recommend.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

You never have enough time for the things you don’t prioritise.

I remember getting told early in my career, when behind on my timesheets, about the fallacy of time. That it isn’t about not having enough time but about not prioritising the task highly enough. Now as a leader I see this all the time with personal development. People prioritise work for clients, colleagues and others higher than they do personal/professional development and so never have time for it. A key thing I work with my teams on is helping them to prioritise themselves and their development.

When it comes to creating positive change, is there a piece of work, person or company that really stands out to you? 

Proctor & Gamble’s The Talk campaign is a really powerful piece of film that deeply moved me.